From novel to opera

Edmonton Opera Blog

From novel to opera

Inspired by the 30-Day Opera Challenge done by Austin Lyric Opera, the staff at the Edmonton Opera have taken on a 30-question challenge of their own. Each week, we'll post answers from staff members about various aspects of opera, whether it's their favourite aria, an opera house they'd like to visit, or an open-ended question about what they would do if they could conduct, create, etc., an opera. 
We welcome comments with your own take on the question, either on the blog or via social media.

What started as a retweet from the Royal Opera House on World Book Day last week has become this week's blog content question. Considering Tchaikovsky wrote Eugene Onegin after a dinner party where they discussed suitable subjects for opera, we think this is an awesome question as we prepare for the final opera of the 2012/13 season. 

If you could stage an opera based on a book, what would you choose? Do you foresee any challenges?

On social media, we had two people reply that they would like to turn Pride and Prejudice into an opera, as well as mentions of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, Memoirs of a Geisha and The Great Gatsby. For Orlando, it was pointed out that either a counter tenor or two artists for one role would have to be cast — we saw similarities that it could be like The Tales of Hoffmann, where both are done (either one artist is cast for the three women or three artists are cast for each of the women that Hoffmann falls in love with). The comment about Memoirs of a Geisha was also fantastic: "The only challenge (would be) that a lot of the dialogue is her private thoughts and observations, but that's what a good aria is for!" One of the chorus members also commented that she could probably write an opera based on the coffee-shop conversations that she was currently overhearing.

And finally, we won't lie: our first thought when someone suggested The Great Gatsby was that if it were an opera, it would be a great outreach project to get high schools involved with our education programs. 

Our technical director, Clayton Rodney, also suggested that How the Grinch Stole Christmas would be a great opera because "it's practically an opera already! So much drama and so over the top — plus building the costumes and scenery would be way too much fun!"


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